CENTERVIEW — Crest Ridge senior Emily Wilhite left the Saturday’s, Feb. 1, Quarry City Classic championship game late in the second quarter after taking a blow to the face, leaving her nosed bloodied.
Crest Ridge head coach Katie Woolsey said her initial assessment was that Wilhite had broken her nose. Wilhite went back to the locker room before the halftime horn to get the injury looked at.
Woolsey knows a thing or two about having a broken nose, having played through the injury in college, and told her senior forward that she could play with the injury in the second half if she wanted to.
“(Wilhite) goes ‘all right where is my new uniform?’” Woolsey said.
Wilhite made her return in the second half, donning No. 33.
“Talk about chills, when she checks back in and our hometown crowd recognizes her toughness and stands for an ovation,” Woolsey said. “That was a huge lift for us. We knew we could play without her, but they also recognized her toughness and her commitment to the team.”
Crest Ridge used the return of Wilhite to propel itself to the title, holding off Leeton 40-34.
“That’s a great win for us,” Woolsey said. “That’s a state playoff atmosphere, both crowds were loud.”
The Lady Cougars gave the home crowd plenty to cheer for in the open quarter, staking out a 12-6 lead in the opening quarter, led by six points from Kenna Brandes.
“I just felt like we were a little timid to start and it took us a long time to get rolling from a confidence stand point,” Leeton coach Travis Fleming said.
The Lady Bulldogs and specifically Bailey Fleming came alive in the second quarter. The freshman guard scored 10 of Leeton’s 15 points in the quarter and finished with a team-high 16 points.
Leeton managed to pull ahead in the final seconds of the half with a basket by Regan Shaffer to lead 21-20 going into the intermission.
“That was a good old slugfest I felt like,” Travis Fleming said. “That game felt like we were conference rivals or something.”
Crest Ridge allowed just one basket by Leeton in the third quarter. Bailey Fleming knocked down a 3-pointer to start the frame before the Lady Bulldogs offense went quiet.
“Our defense was awesome tonight, it’s been great all year,” Woolsey said.
The Lady Cougars responded with 11 points in the third quarter to hold a 31-24 lead.
“Offensively, we just weren’t aggressive enough and we didn’t attack the basket,” Travis Fleming said.
The Lady Bulldogs frazzled Crest Ridge for a bit as the Lady Cougars tried to ice the game away, forcing a pair of turnovers to pull within two, 35-33, with a minute, 12 seconds left.
Crest Ridge broke the Leeton press to make it a two-possession game before Cam Martin iced the game away with three made free throws.
Martin was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player following her performance of 15 points.
Leah Shanks and Wilhite, who finished with eight points, were named to the All-Tournament team.
Leeton’s Bailey Fleming and Shaffer, who fouled out with eight points, also earned All-Tournament nods.
Despite the loss, Travis Fleming said the long term benefit of playing in a close, high-stakes game will be good for Leeton, who aims to make another deep run in the state playoffs.
“This is great for us,” Travis Fleming said. “This doesn’t mean anything as far as the grand scheme of everything. This is just like the environment in Sedalia. ...This is exactly what we need. A big credit to Crest Ridge for giving it to us.”
Concordia 42, Knob Noster 41
The Lady Panthers dropped a heart breaker in the third place game of the Quarry City Classic on Saturday, Feb. 1, falling 42-41 to Concordia.
Knob Noster led by two, 19-17, at halftime after sinking five 3-pointers in the first half.
The Lady Panthers led 29-28 going into the final quarter, Concordia’s Cate Cooper scored nine of her 19 points in the final eight minutes to pull the Lady Orioles in front.
Kaitlyn Everts went for 16 points in the loss.